In 2016, the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has once more generated a record sum in donations. The foundation collected 129,271,207 euros in total, almost five million more than in the preceding year. This made it possible to provide funding for 5,303 projects in 148 countries last year. Administration accounted for 6.4 per cent of the budget (2015: 6.5 per cent). A total of 2,109 projects were not approved. The figures and statistics were audited and attested by the international auditing firm KPMG.
Königstein, 20.06.2017. A significant fraction of the projects is located in Africa. The increase in the number of aid applications coming from this continent – they now account for 34 per cent of all applications – also reflects the growth of the church in Africa. The countries located in the Sahelian zone receive particular attention, as do Northern Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania – all of which are countries in which an aggressive form of Islam is spreading. Emergency and subsistence aid in the Middle, the cradle of Christianity, is a major cost factor. The aid secures the presence of Christians in these regions. Of all the countries, Iraq and Syria received the most aid in 2016 with 9.7 and 6 million euros, respectively. This is of course due to the political situation in this region. Around 60 million euros have flowed into the crisis areas in the Middle East since 2011, 18.2 million euros in the past year alone. This aid is expected to continue to grow exponentially this year as well. The pastoral charity has launched a million-euro programme to enable Christians from the Middle East to return to now liberated areas.
As in the preceding years, the majority of the total aid was approved for rebuilding projects. These received a share of 30 per cent, followed by emergency aid for the Middle East and subsistence aid for religious sisters, as well as aid for formation: around 30,000 catechists and pastoral agents were among those to receive help in this area. In Central and Eastern Europe especially, the focus of the aid is shifting from building projects to training and further education. The Balkan countries have moved to the centre of attention in this part of the world, because radical forms of Islam are making itself felt there as well. More than 1,200 chapels, churches, cathedrals and seminaries all over the world were co-financed, mostly in regions laid to waste by forces of nature. One third of the building projects were realised in Africa.
Every ninth priest (43,015 in total) received help in the form of Mass stipends, especially in Africa (14,403) and Asia (11,293). Aid was approved for 10,760 seminarians, a number equivalent to every eleventh seminarian worldwide. Most of them were preparing for the priesthood in Africa (4,667), Latin America (2,900) and Eastern Europe (1,577). Training and/or subsistence aid was granted to 11,080 religious sisters, or every 62nd sister worldwide. In 2015, only every 67th sister received aid. In most cases, the help was in the form of subsistence aid for religious sisters in contemplative orders. Further funding was granted for 375 cars, 149 motorcycles and 239 bicycles as well as two boats.
Never before has Aid to the Church in Need collected so much money in one year. Just under two thirds (65 per cent) came from individual donations, a good fifth (21.8 per cent) from legacies. The pontifical foundation received most of the donations from France (€29.5m), followed by Great Britain (€18.2m), Spain (€13.2m), Germany (€12.4m) as well as Switzerland and Liechtenstein (€9.1m). Overall, the pastoral charity maintains national offices with fundraising activities in 23 countries.